Musings over the Indiana State Constitution, 7

Article 1 Bill of Rights
Section 18. Penal code and reformation
Section 18. The penal code shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice.

How is our penal code founded on the principles of reformation and not vindictive justice? Honestly, are our lengthy prison sentences, even for minor crimes, even for juveniles, meted out to reform or as vindictive justice?

Musings over the Indiana State Constitution, 5

Article 1 Bill of Rights
Section 16. Excessive bail or fines, Cruel and unusual punishment

Section 16. Excessive bail shall not be required. Excessive fines shall not be imposed. Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. All penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.

What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? What does it mean for penalties to be proportional to the nature of the offense?

Not meeting violence with violence


Too often in national tragedies, violence and revenge are pursued in the name of the dead, as if this response is what the dead would want. (In all honesty, violence and revenge may be more what the living want.)

I was recently struck by the plea from Amber Amundson not to pursue violence in response to her husband’s death. Amber is the widow of Craig Scott Amundson, an enlisted specialist in the Army who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

…I have heard angry rhetoric by some Americans, including many of our nation’s leaders, who advise a heavy dose of revenge and punishment. To those leaders, I would like to make clear that my family and I take no comfort in your words of rage. If you choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality by perpetuating violence against other innocent human beings, you may not do so in the name of justice for my husband. Your words and imminent acts of revenge only amplify our family’s suffering, deny us the dignity of remembering our loved one in a way that would have made him proud, and mock his vision of America as a peacemaker in the world community….